The 20 best films to watch on MUBI right now, from Aftersun to Close
One of the streaming platforms that has really come into its own over recent years is MUBI, home of foreign-language favourites, cult hits and undiscovered gems.
For years, the service worked by recommending a new film every day, with a rolling selection of movies that expired after 30 days.
Now, the service has expanded its selection with a permanent library of films. The selection marks MUBI as one of the best places to discover the kind of interesting, esoteric movies that are often bypassed by other, more mainstream streaming services.
Here we narrow down these brilliant films by choosing our pick of the 20 best films to watch on MUBI right now.
Plus, Evening Standard has now partnered with MUBI to offer readers 30 days of free streaming. So if this sounds like your cup of tea, find out more here.
The Five Devils
This thrilling 2022 film from French director Léa Mysius, which has only just landed on MUBI, tells the story of a young girl, Vicky (Sally Dramé), who has extraordinary olfactory powers. Vicky’s world changes when her father’s sister Julia (Swala Emati), a pyromaniac, comes to stay. Julia has a history with Vicky’s mother, Joanne (Adèle Exarchopoulos), and the sexual tension between the two women starts to grow. “Adèle Exarchopoulos excels in this dark, elemental drama,” said Empire. “A sensory delight that marks Léa Mysius as a filmmaker to get excited about.”
Another hit from superstar studio A24, Aftersun tells the story of Calum (Paul Mescal), a 30-year-old father who takes his 11-year-old daughter, Sophie (Frankie Corio), on holiday to Turkey. Set in the early 2000s, the story explores parenthood, relationships, grief and memory. The film, which The Standard called “astonishingly beautiful” is the debut feature film of director Charlotte Wells and has won Mescal his first Oscar nomination.
Belgian film director Lukas Dhont is only 31 years old, but already has over forty awards and nominations under his belt, including an Oscar nomination this year for Close. His 2018 feature-length debut, Girl, told the story of a 15-year-old trans girl who is trying to become a professional ballerina. In Close, Dhont once again explores identity, this time telling the story of two boys, Léo and Rémi, whose friendship starts to draw attention from their schoolmates. Mark Kermode said the film was “achingly poignant”.
Although we are still only in May, we are ready to declare Corsage as one of the best films of the year. Exquisitely shot by Austrian filmmaker Marie Kreutzer, Vicky Krieps stars as the viciously independent Empress Elisabeth of Austria who found her life at court equally suffocating and boring. Elisabeth was a formidable character: she was an amazing equestrian, spoke five languages, had extremely long hair (it took three hours a day to brush), smoked (a shocking habit for a woman at the time), slept little and would spend her nights writing instead. A quietly ferocious film, Corsage is about an eccentric and vain woman navigating a life she can’t escape.
Drive My Car
Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi adapts Haruki Murakami‘s short story of the same name in this Oscar-winning film. Two years after YÅ«suke Kafuku’s (Hidetoshi Nishijima) wife dies of a brain haemorrhage, he gets a new job directing a multilingual play in Hiroshima. The theatre provides him with a 20-year-old female chauffeur to drive him to work from his home, and the two start to develop a relationship.
Looking to watch something feel-good with teeth? There are few films that will better fit the bill than this 1963 comedy classic from Stanley Donen. Audrey Hepburn stars as Reggie, a woman who is dragged into a spy plot when her husband is murdered. Cary Grant plays Peter, a man who she meets while holidaying in the Alps, who keeps cropping up.
This exquisite film from French director Audrey Diwan won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2021. Anamaria Vartolomei stars as Anne, a talented university student in the Sixties who faces a big dilemma when she becomes pregnant. Abortion was illegal at the time in France, which further complicates her difficult decision. The film is based on the 2000 novel L’événement by French author Annie Ernaux, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in December 2022.
Emma Seligman’s directorial debut starred Rachel Sennott as Danielle, a disorganised college student who has a sugar daddy. After they have sex, she runs to join her parents at the shiva (Jewish post-funeral observance event) of a distant relative which is being held at her aunt Sheila’s house. But who should also turn up but Max (Danny Deferrari), her sugar daddy? And as if things aren’t awkward enough, it turns out that Max is married, and his wife, Kim (Dianna Agron) is also there. The BFI called it a “slick, sly comedy of New York Jewish manners” and Vulture said: “Shiva Baby is the most humid movie you’ve ever seen.”
As with all of Park Chan-wook’s films, The Handmaiden is extremely sexually explicit, with a twisting and turning plotline and an explosive ending. Set in the early 20th century, in Japanese-occupied Korea, con man (Ha Jung-woo) hatches a complicated plan to gain the inheritance of Japanese heiress, Izumi Hideko (Kim Min-hee). But when he hires pickpocket Nam Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) to pretend to be her maid, things take an unexpected turn.
This award-winning 2017 film remains our favourite Ruben Östlund film, despite his latest release, Triangle Of Sadness, receiving three Oscar nominations (including Best Picture). Claes Bang stars as Christian, the curator of a fancy art museum in Stockholm, who is having a bit of a mid-life crisis. The film follows what happens when he hires a PR team to boost interest in the museum.
Claire Denis’ strange sci-fi High Life centres on the lives of convicted criminals cast adrift in space, on a doomed mission to harvest the power of black holes. Robert Pattinson gives one of his strongest performances as a lost soul responsible for looking after a young child on board the ship. Juliette Binoche is also excellent as the obsessive Dr Dibs, who attempts to create new life through artificial insemination. The film’s non-linear narrative only adds to the film’s bewildering feel.
This 2020 gem became one of the most acclaimed foreign-language films of the year when it arrived in 2019. The contemporary western tells the story of Brazilian villagers who are attacked by gun-wielding tourists, and the Standard’s Charlotte O’Sullivan described it as “agonisingly suspenseful” and “laugh out loud funny” in her five-star review. She went on to say: “Bacurau is in the same class as Parasite. In the words of Bong Joon Ho, 'Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.'"
The Staggering Girl
This arresting piece from Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino is one of the more interesting short films found on the site. With superb performances from a cast, including Julianne Moore, Mia Goth, KiKi Layne and Kyle MacLachlan, the story follows a New York-based writer who encounters geniuses and oddballs on her journey to retrieve her mother from Italy.
Touch Me Not
This blend of documentary and feature film from Romanian director Adina Pintilie won the prestigious Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2018. It takes an enlightening look at sexuality, blurring the line between reality and fiction to create an intoxicating and revealing film about a filmmaker researching intimacy.
Two young Russian women attempt to rebuild their lives following the siege of Leningrad in WWII in this historical drama. In among the crumbling buildings, the pair look to find peace, serenity and hope in testing circumstances. Russin filmmaker Kantemir Balagov won the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Film in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes in 2019 for the film.
This German comedy directed, written and co-produced by German filmmaker Maren Ade, became a surprise international hit in 2016 after winning over audiences around the world. It tells the story of Toni (Peter Simonischek), a divorced father with a penchant for practical jokes, who makes a concerted effort to reconnect with his daughter.
Let the Sunshine In
Claire Denis teamed up with Juliette Binoche for this smart, sophisticated and bittersweet romantic drama, following a dissatisfied French artist as she looks for love in middle age. The movie follows her as she meets an array of characters, encounters an array of different lives and lovers in Paris and eventually comes to appreciate her own self-worth.
The Souvenir: Part II
The second instalment of Joanna Hogg’s subtle and affecting drama, The Souvenir, focuses on film student Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) as she copes with the death of her drug-addicted lover, Anthony. Just as good as part one, the Standard described the sequel as, “one of the most beautiful and extraordinary films of the year,” saying, “in every way, the sequel deepens and darkens what’s gone before”.
Jim Jarmusch’s last film bombed, but the movie that came before is far more worthy of attention. Adam Driver stars as the titular character in this meta-movie (playing a bus driver and poet called Paterson, who lives in the town of Paterson) who makes his way quietly along his bus route, visiting New Jersey bars and spending time with his supportive wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani). The mumbling tone of the film isn’t for everyone, but there’s joy to be found within it.
A group of eco-warriors led by Jesse Eisenberg are the focus of this underrated thriller from director Kelly Reichardt. The movie deals with the fallout from a crime committed in the name of preventing climate change, with the net closing in tighter around them. The film went under the radar on its release in 2013 and took less than $1m worldwide, but it’s far better than its box office performance suggests.